It’s hard to believe that in a state famous for its potatoes, this is the first time we’ve highlighted the mighty spud as our Western Idaho Fair Crop of the Year. We cannot say enough about this iconic tuber or the benefits it’s bestowed upon our great state of Idaho.
Every spring, Idaho farmers plant over 320,000 acres of potatoes. About 60% of that goes into French fry production—now that’s a lot of fries!
Southern Idaho’s a perfect potato growing region for a few different reasons. For one, its light volcanic soils are rich in trace elements perfect for the potato. Second, potatoes love warm days and cool nights like we have here. As it turns out, Idaho’s climate is very similar to where the potato was originally cultivated in the Peruvian Andes about 10,000 years ago. Here are some other potato facts:
- The famous Idaho Potato is the Idaho Russet, the perfect French fry potato due to its low moisture and high starch content. It was originally named the Russet Burbank after its cultivator, Luther Burbank.
- The potato is the fourth largest food crop in the world behind rice, wheat, and maize.
- Potatoes first came to Idaho in the 1840s, but it wasn’t until the summer of 1860 that potato cultivation found a permanent home in Idaho.
- Thomas Jefferson served the first “French fries” at a White House dinner in 1802. It’s unknown if fries were first created in what is now Belgium, or indeed, in France
Classic French Fry Recipe
Courtesy of Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries & Shakes cookbook
5 large Russet potatoes, peeled or well scrubbed, if leaving leaving the skin on
1 quart peanut oil
- Cut the potatoes lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then cut each slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick fries. Put the fries in a large bowl of cold water and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
- Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed medium stockpot over medium heat, or in a tabletop deep fryer, to 325° F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.
- Drain the fries well and pat dry in batches with paper towels. Fry each batch, turning frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the fries are a pale blond color and limp. Remove with a mesh skimmer to the baking sheet lined with paper towels.
- Increase the heat of the oil to 375° F.
- Fry the potatoes again, in batches, turning frequently, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with the skimmer and drain on clean paper towels. Season immediately with salt and serve hot.